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The region of Languedoc also known as the 'Midi' denotes its enviable central location around the basin of the Mediterranean. Gastronomically it is as rich as any other French region owing to the generosity of the sun, land and the sea. The markets are an important source for this incredible choice of fresh food. We cook with the seasons, tempted by colours and aromas that stimulate our imagination and arouse our creativity.

The Languedoc plain is home to some of France's greatest fruit and vegetable-growing with Mediterranean favourites such as peppers, artichokes, tomatoes and aubergines and mounds of melons, peaches and apricots sun-ripened to perfection.

Natural coastal lagoons or 'etangs' provide a home for flamingos and a perfect habitat for oysters and mussels and a variety of other marine life. Sete is the biggest fishing port, its' large market supplying the most amazing varieties of fresh fish; anchovies, sardines, red mullet, tuna, sea bream, baby squid and octopus.

Black bulls graze on the rich grasslands of the Rhone delta in the Camargue. The revered rice of the region is also grown on the surrounding marshland and the salt pans are home to the special hand harvested salt 'fleur de sel'.

Olive groves are fewer than one might imagine as many were wiped out after the severe frost of 1956, and there has been a reluctance to replant. However, the remaining few provide treasured oils that rarely leave the region. The oval shaped Lucque olive is unique and enjoyed served with a glass of Muscat or rose wine as an aperitif.

The 'garrigue', scrubland of the hillsides, are scented with wild herbs; rosemary, thyme, juniper, mint, cistus, fennel and lavender. Strategically located beehives are scattered amongst them for the purity of their pollen. The goats and sheep that graze there, their milk suitably enriched, imparts its flavours to the cheese it becomes.

Roquefort, the world famous blue cheese, is still made and matured in the limestone caves of the Larzac plateau from milk of the Lacune sheep and goats' cheeses of all shapes and sizes are local specialities, especially the handmade Pelardon.

Wooded hillsides hide wild mushrooms, truffles, chestnuts, wild boar and game, which together with the celebrated dish of cassoulet, provide the basis for the Languedoc winter diet which completes the annual cycle of seasons and supplies us with the best of everything we could possibly need.

It is no surprise that the Mediterranean diet is considered one of the healthiest in the world; it is not only fun to shop and prepare the ingredients but best of all . . . to eat them!

Food and Wine of Southern France Food and Wine of Southern France


Languedoc is the world's largest wine region and one of the most exciting wine producing areas of France. The region stretches from Nimes in the east to the Spanish border in the west, a plain sandwiched between the mountains and the Mediterranean.

It consists of a multitude of appellations including; Coteaux du Languedoc, Faugeres, St Chinian, Corbieres, Minervois, Fitou, Muscats du Languedoc, Limoux, Collioure, Cotes du Roussillon and Banyuls to name but a few and many more areas of Vin de Pays.

A new banner, 'South of France' has been created to cover the whole of the Languedoc-Roussillon area. Launched in the hope of creating a single, well defined, modern identity that will enable the Appellation and the Vin de Pays producers to work together to present a united message to the world's wine stage.

This region is rich in cultural heritage and geography offering a great diversity of wine styles. The unique concept of 'terroir' and tradition work in harmony with the modern varietal approach and a new wave of young, passionate and dynamic producers have established themselves.

In the past this area was infamous for its' poorer quality viticulture with over high production yielding copious quantities of vin de table. This is no longer the case, yields have been significantly reduced and quality is now the name of the game.

Established deep-rooted vines of the traditional indigenous grape varieties such as Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan are grown alongside less traditional ones such as Syrah, Chardonnay and Merlot offering a great diversity of styles and flavours.

The breathtaking landscape of sea and mountains, together with the sunny climate and the rich local flavours of Mediterranean food, convey the characteristics of Languedoc's unique and wonderful wines.

Wine and food - the ultimate marriage!

The diversity of wines and wealth of natural produce afford us endless possibilities when choosing a wine to match our selected 'plat'. Some are traditional, unquestionably compatible:

  • A chilled glass of crisp, dry Picpoul de Pinet with a brimming bowl of moules mariniere.
  • Rich, golden Muscat de Mireval with freshly poached peaches or a chilled, aromatic rose with anchovies from Collioure.
  • A full bodied glass of deep red Faugeres with an assiette de fromage or a garrique-scented Corbieres with a hearty cassoulet.

Whether it be a personal preference, an experiment, a surprise, or a wine which fits the occasion, the season, the mood or the food . . . it is an eternal voyage of discovery!

Food and Wine of Southern France Food and Wine of Southern France Food and Wine of Southern France

Written by Lits Philipou

© Copyright 2007 Tastes of Languedoc -

Published 24 July 2007

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